Martone & Sons Roofing and Sheet Metal was founded in 1918 by Lorenzo Martone. Born in 1888 in Frigento, Avellino Italy to Nicola Martone and Catherina Giordano, Lorenzo immigrated to the United States in 1906 at the age of 18. He first settled in Waterbury, Connecticut, where he had a distant relative and where there were many immigrants from Avellino. He met Chiarina Capobianco, also from Avellino and the two married in October, 1913. Their first two children were born in Waterbury, Catherine and Nicholas.
Shortly afterwards, Chiarina and Lorenzo settled in Glen Cove on Long Island, New York, where some of Lorenzo’s in-laws had started the Sea Cliff Radiator Works. The company also did some roofing. He performed numerous functions, but was most enthusiastic about the roofing business. In 1918, with the blessing of his uncle, Michael Capobianco, he started his own roofing company.
The rest of the couple’s eight children were born in Glen Cove – Pasquale, (Pat), Louise, Philip, Lorenzo, Andrew and John. Lorenzo was a very cultured man and enjoyed going to the Metropolitan Opera House in Manhattan. Years after his death, his daughter Louise became good friends with Licia Albanese, the famous Met soprano, a favorite of her father’s. Lorenzo was also a die-hard Yankee fan and was sometimes spoke to the Italian members of the team after the games.
In 1932, Lorenzo suffered a serious fall on the job. He spent much of the next year recovering. This required Nick, as the eldest son, to drop out of high school to help support the family. Nick went to work the very next day and stayed in the business until he passed away in 1998.
Tragedy struck the family when Lorenzo’s wife Chiarina died suddenly in 1939. Catherine and Louise gave up their jobs to raise the rest of the children, the youngest of which was only seven years old. Catherine never married, but became the matriarch of the family and was beloved by all.
Three of the brothers served in WW II, Pat in Europe, Philip in the Pacific and Lorenzo Jr., who enlisted in the navy while in his last semester in high school, became a corpsman stationed in Philadelphia. During this time, Lorenzo Sr. bought land in Glen Cove where the company built offices, warehouses and workshops for the growing company, where they remain in use to this day.
The post war years saw a great building boom. Martone Roofing was involved in many large-scale projects at this time. The work included many of the new public schools, libraries, hospitals, fire houses and municipal complexes that were being built.
Eventually, all of Lorenzo’s sons would come to work in the business. Pat was very hands-on, performing jobs in everything from carpentry to electrical work. Philip earned an engineering degree before coming back to the business. Lorenzo Jr. (Larry) returned after graduating with a degree in political science and was a project manager and salesman. Andy graduated from Kings Point Merchant Marine Academy, served in the navy during the Korean War and then worked in merchant shipping before returning to the business as a salesman and project manager. John graduated with a technical degree and applied his extensive knowledge of mechanics to the business. Louise worked in the office from the early 1940s until she retired in 2012 at the age of 92.
The business was incorporated in 1957 as L. Martone & Sons, but five years later Lorenzo passed away. The last words to his children, were “stick together.” Nick took over as president, a position he held until his death in 1998. His son Lawrence, “LJ,” then took over as president.
In 1972, the company completed what was to be one of their most prestigious jobs, the new Nassau Coliseum that was to house the new expansion hockey team, the New York Islanders. Martone also did many of the new SUNY campuses, including Stony Brook, Purchase and Old Westbury.
Sadly, two of the brothers, Pat and Phil, both passed away of cancer only three years apart in the mid-seventies. This era also saw a significant rise in competition within the roofing industry, especially in the much lower capitalized residential market. Martone decided to concentrate on commercial roofing and during the period, completed as many as 100 jobs per year.
Over the next decades and into the present, Martone Roofing expanded its corporate footprint into New York City as large-scale projects became scarcer on Long Island. This presented new challenges to the organization. During this time, Nick Sr.’s second oldest son, Nick Jr., took the reins as president from his older brother and was to lead the charge into the city. The new millennium saw a huge building boom in New York City, led by high-rise residences. L. Martone & Sons completed many large scale projects, including the 75-story residence called Carnegie 57, but nicknamed “The Billionaire Building.”
There are currently eight family members, including two from the fourth generation working in the business. John Martone, Nick’s 3rd eldest son, has taken over as president.
Throughout all of the years, the Martones shared much in common with the Italian immigrants. They went to the local Catholic school and church; gathered at Aunt Kate’s house every holiday and at Aunt Louise’s for her annual summer picnic. Many members of the family loved opera and would attend the performances at the Met. In fact, Louise still has Metropolitan Opera Librettos dating from the 1930s. Most of the members of the family loved sports and were split between Yankee fans or Brooklyn Dodger and later, Mets fans.
The family business did much to keep the family together for those many years and although there are always some low points, Lorenzo’s sons and daughters did indeed “stick together.” It has proven to be a fine example of the American Dream, begun by poor immigrants and realized through hard work by each of the succeeding generations. The next time you are in New York City – look up. The enduring legacy of L. Martone & Sons can be viewed at the tops of many of the City’s buildings.